The International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association (IFWTWA) offers programs and resources for professionals writing in the field, including Food Wine Travel Magazine, which featured our 2022 Joy Estate Seyval Blanc Brut recently. Among their activities is a monthly Zoom call featuring a different winery.
Winemaker Dave and Money Honey Sara were the guests for the February session. Roughly 30 writers tuned in from across the country to hear our story. Several also received sample bottles of either the 2021 Helios Estate Seyval Blanc or the (as yet unreleased) 2021 Jupiter Estate Pinot Noir.
During the session, we shared our backstory and a few photos. We also explained how we host tastings, where the winery name came from, how we select names for each of our wines, and Dave’s winemaking philosophy. Additionally, several writers shared their thoughts on the wines they had sampled.
2021 Helios Seyval Blanc Reviews
Linda Kissam, All In Good Taste: This is a plucky little wine, because what you get on the nose is not what you get necessarily on the palate except for the diesel. I got it both on the nose and the palate. And I find that quite wonderful. For me, that’s a good characteristic. The smoothness of it is really nice. When you look at it in the glass, you go, “Oh, I think this has got a little bit more texture than perhaps some of the other white wines that we’re used to.” The creaminess on the palate is really nice with the tropical fruits, which I really like. And again, that sort of earthy diesel mix in it. I think that makes it a great wine for sitting out on the patio for the summer. I can tell it will pair well with shrimp and other white fish. I think it’s going to be good with salmon too, because it has its own oomph to it. So great wine. Good job. I enjoyed it.
Elizabeth Smith, Wine Writer: [NOTE: Elizabeth has visited us twice, and written about several of our wines before—here and here.] The first time I visited I was drawn to this wine because it was Seyval Blanc. I’m from the East Coast and I’ve tasted East Coast examples. You’re doing stuff that’s different. This [Seyval Blanc] is almost like your Burgundy or your Chablis, but not Chardonnay. That’s the way I see it fit. I notice—because I’m in California—acidity, but it’s rounded off with the sur lie aging and you don’t over-oak it. I actually did not know until tonight that you do it in plastic or stainless. So that makes all the difference.
When I wrote about it, I compared it to Aligote, the lesser known white grape of Burgundy. This is sort of an outlier like that; people don’t know it. I think it’s something really special that you do and it’s part of your story. It fits, and you’re introducing people to wine that they probably never tried before. That’s why, when I wrote my last piece I said, this [wine] is the outlier of Willamette Valley. This is the white that people have no clue what it is or what they’re going to get, but they’re probably going to love it.
Cori Solomon, The Written Palette: [NOTE: Cori has also visited us previously, writing about her experience here.] I discovered Seyval Blanc in Missouri, [where] they have sweeter wines. But [Seyval Blanc] was one of the dry wines I discovered there. And, I noticed from looking at some of my notes from back then, that yours is definitely very different. You have, when you describe texture, theirs did not have that texture or the depth. And that’s what I particularly like about it. I find I describe it as a mixture—because you said the tropical—it’s kind of a mixture of Chenin Blanc and Burgundy Sauvignon Blanc, which can bring in the tropical, and then Pinot Grigio. I find it a very dry, crisp wine. Yours has more depth, which I like compared to others.
2021 Jupiter Estate Pinot Noir Reviews
Jo-Anne Bowen, Journeys with Jo-Anne: I love Dave’s analogy about the ski jump. I am delighted to be enjoying the 2021 Jupiter. It really is like a ski jump. I did decant it for an hour after I read the fact sheet, and I find now it’s a lovely sipping wine smooth mouthfeel with just a hint of fruit to it. I think I also would pair this with both chicken and beef. It would be lovely with both.
Penny Sadler, Adventures of a Carry-On: [NOTE: Penny recently featured us in an article, here.] When I first tasted it, I thought, “I would like to drink this wine in about five years.” But the fruit is is there. You can definitely drink this wine now. But I can tell there’s just enough oak on it that if that is integrated a bit more, this is going to be so much more complex and a lot more rewarding to drink.
Terry Nozick, Truth ‘n’ Wine: This Pinot is so perfect right now. I love the fresh fruitiness of it, but that’s the kind of Pinot I like. I always think of Oregon Pinots as that great cross between Burgundy and California. They’re something straight down the middle and not every Oregon wine hits that for me. But yours does. I think it’s just gorgeous. And I love this sort of dusty minerality that you have on this wine. I think it’s just so beautiful and it’s hitting the spot right now.
Marlynn Schotland, Urban Bliss Life: [NOTE: Marlynn famously created the exceedingly popular Pinot Noir Brownie recipe that we hand out regularly.] This wine and I have been having a moment and then another moment, and then a totally different moment in the last hour. And I’m loving it. I totally agree about the ageability of this wine. When you first drink it, it smells like that Oregon Pinot that we all love and then you drink it and it definitely has a lot more complexity to it already. At the beginning I got a lot of bright red fruits, almost like a candy cherry red fruit at the beginning. But that definitely softened and became more elegant as it opened up. I would pair this with chicken and beef, all the typical things that you would pair a Pinot with. But then also some of the things that I would pair a bigger red with; I was thinking this would be awesome with just a big vat of pasta with Bolognese sauce.
Andy Harris, The SoCal Restaurant Show: [NOTE: Andy has interviewed Dave on his show before, here.] Definitely on the nose, I am getting the ripe fruit. On the tasting, definitely juicy and certainly a lot of depth there. I’m very happy to drink it now, but in a year it might be better. I can afford to with a little space and a little time to hang onto it for a year and see what happens from there. It’s a treat to taste your first fully estate Pinot Noir having tasted some of your previous releases.
Also I would love to suggest to the group, for those of you that get up to the Willamette Valley and have not visited Bells Up. That patio table that we saw earlier in the presentation, I had the good fortune pre-pandemic to enjoy a tasting with both of our hosts there, that I still remember very well all these years later. It’s a very special experience and very worthwhile, and Dave and Sara are as engaging as you see them this evening. So looking forward to a return visit.
The session was recorded and shared online. Entitled “Bells Up Winery: When Wine and Music Hit All the Right Notes,” the video can also be seen here: